Shanti Uganda and Jane put together this awesome idea of having a doula training at Shanti. The midwives there have clinical skills but their training didn't expose them to things like dealing with traumatic birth, fetal positioning and how to influence it, VBAC, positions to ease pain, and all kinds of other things that doulas know like the backs of their hands.
They put together a training and invited Melinda and I to come along and co-teach it with Jane, so the three of us wrote a curriculum. Melinda did the structure and then we literally wrote it as we went each day, together. It was pretty fabulous.
|(L-R) Jane, Bobby, Melinda (teaching), Sadie, Ildiko|
People ask me about diversity where I live. I'm not sure I realized what that even means until this trip!
|Hazuki, Ritah & Sarah|
We brought 40+ hours of doula training to Shanti Uganda. There are no 'doulas' per se, in Uganda, but there are displaced Traditional Birth Attendants. TBAs are essentially the 'granny midwives' of Africa- most of the countries have them, I believe- women who were trained in the apprentice model to care for families and catch babies. The TBA who works at Shanti, Florence, is even certified as a TBA which is pretty neat that Uganda recognized their work in this way, until they were made illegal relatively recently.
|Mama Viola and her son, Patrick, born into Jane's hands.|
Viola asked Jane to name him, she chose to name him
after her husband, Pat.
They taught workshops for us on maternal health in Uganda, the goals they have of decreasing maternal and infant mortality, nutrition, local herbs and the importance of hygiene and diet. We learned about the herbs that are used on site, traditional medicines. We spent time with Florence and learned about how and why she became a TBA- turns out that the 'birth bug' bites women in any country, anywhere, the same way it bites us here.
All in all we taught a doula training, but the incredible thing is that we taught the midwives skills that will make birth gentler for the Ugandan women. They learned the reasons why women do some of the things they do in labor, which will make them more patient and understanding as care providers. We exchanged stories and they know that they have Sisters around the world who truly understand them, and what they are trying to do for Uganda, and her amazing women. We brought teaching supplies, medical supplies, basics like cloth menstrual pads and pens and paper, and baby clothes.
|Melinda teaching while Madeline, Stella and Bobby take|
it all in.
And the most beautiful thing is that the Uganda midwives want to do it. They want to know more, and more, and more ways to help women in labor. They want more tools to be able to effectively teach, because they care about these women and their births. They want to be able to go back to school for higher degrees of learning. They want to pioneer and be on the leading edge of this dream of less death, and more satisfaction in birth.
This is absolute proof that little things do make an enormous difference. There was no hoop to jump through, we just dared to say YES. We just dared to push through our fears (oh boy, many changes to jump through that particular hoop!), and we changed the world, just a little bit.
|Florence Nagawa, former TBA. |
After finishing our course,she said, tearfully,
"I am no longer a TBA. Now, I am a doula!"
So what are you waiting for? Dare to say yes- dare to try. Dare to be the change someone else needs in the world. It's hard, and it's sooo worth it.